A director’s future goes up in flames

6 December 2017

The company director of Oil Tech International Pty Ltd (Oil Tech) could be fined $600,000 or jailed for five years after a worker was engulfed in flames and killed.

The worker was using a heat gun at the QLD waste recycling facility where contaminated unleaded petrol was being fed from a tanker.

The tragedy could have been prevented through “relatively simple controls”, said Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ), after an investigation into Oil Tech “raised serious questions” about the facility’s system regarding waste flammables and the absence of a hot work-permit system or adequate worker training.

The lack of any real system to prevent ignition sources coming in contact with flammables and prohibiting hot work while unloading flammables into a containment area exposed the worker to serious risks”.

Consequently, both Oil Tech, and its director Michael Joseph Reid have been changed with breaching s 31 (reckless conduct-category 1) of the Queensland Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

If convicted, the company could be fined up to $3 million.

WHSQ alleged that Reid did not exercise due diligence to ensure that Oil Tech complied with all Work Health and Safety duties. This being, he failed to take reasonable steps to ensure safety risks were minimised and did not gain a proper understanding of Oil Tech’s operations and hazards.

Ultimately “reasonable effort was not made so that the company could develop or put in place controls to avoid ignition sources being close to flammables” states WHSQ.

Meanwhile, WHSQ reminds employers that thanks to Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter provision, any officers negligently culpable in workplace fatalities could now be jailed up to 20 years, and their companies fined up to $10 million

It makes the 5 years and $3 million not seem so bad after all.